Layering is an excellent way to add more depth and personality to an outfit. Experimenting with one, two, or even more garments can help create a truly stylish look that makes you feel great. Plus, layering with attention to detail is practical, especially when combating season weather. Check out our comprehensive guide on how to layer clothing for each season of the year!
Let’s start with everyone’s favorite season—summer! For most people, June through August is reserved for tank tops, short sleeves, shorts, bathing suits, and flip flops. However, layers are important even when it’s warm out. They can protect your skin from sun exposure and keep you comfy when temperatures drop unexpectedly in the evening. Here are the rules for summer layering.
The best layers for the summer season are lightweight and loose in fit. We wear heavy coats with tight liners in the winter to keep body heat inside. For the summer, we follow the light and loose rule, which encourages airflow inside of your layers and circulates body heat away from you! For women, items such as shrugs, tank dresses, oversized denim shirts, and kimonos are both stylish and functional in hotter weather. As for men, we recommend flowy button-downs (camp collars are super trendy!) and slim blazers.
Since you’ll most likely be limited to most likely one layer, you must select a garment that offers you protection without leaving you a sweaty mess. Cotton is the OG summer fabric, thanks to its cooling and moisture-wicking characteristics. Additionally, it’s affordable, common, and easy to clean.
However, cotton isn’t the best layer, especially if other outfit parts consist of the same fabric. Instead, we recommend linen or denim. They’re a bit more expensive than cotton, but both materials are extremely durable, comfortable, and, most importantly, cool even in warm weather. If you want a very soft and lightweight fabric, consider a micromodal garment. Micromodal combines Rayon (which is also excellent on its own!) and wood fibers.
Depending on your weather tolerance, fall is either perfectly comfortable, a bit chilly, or too chilly. Towards the middle to end of fall, layers become necessary for any outfit; luckily, layering during Autumn is a breeze! Unlike summer, you can add some more weight with your jackets and sweaters, as well as combine multiple over-garments. Here are the rules for fall layering.
The most effective way to stay comfortable during the fall is by focusing heavily on your base layer—your shirt or sweater. A good rule of thumb is to ensure your base item is the warmest garment in your outfit. That way, you can add lighter layers for better style without getting too sweaty when indoors or doing physical activity. A good example of a “warm base, light layer” is putting a tank top (shirt or dress) over a turtleneck sweater. Always ensure that your layer comfortably fits over your base item and doesn’t limit your range of motion.
If you want to throw on two layers to combat a cold front, we strongly recommend considering the ever-stylish look of flannel-under-jacket. For this outfit, you can break the prior rule and wear a light base layer like a plain T. Then, find a flannel with color and design that makes your base layer pop. Lastly, wear a neutral jacket (tan and brown are popular color choices) to tie the whole outfit together. This trend isn’t overly vibrant, instead offering a splash of interest amongst a traditional look. This fit also allows you to remove layers when indoors!
Winter, in theory, is the easiest season to layer for—simply load up on the heaviest, warmest garments. However, dressing warmly in the winter isn’t as simple as you might think. Here are the winter layering rules.
If you live in an area greatly impacted by winter, you’ll probably need more than two layers. These include your base, middle, and outside layers. Unlike the fall, we recommend making your base item lighter compared to the others, as it’s very easy to sweat in a winter outfit. Consider a sweat-wicking, workout-material shirt. Cover that garment up with a more stylish middle layer, like a zip-up sweater or a button-up cardigan. Lastly, round out the fit with a suitable coat that meets your needs relative to the weather. Wear a lined coat for a subtle, added layer for extremely cold days.
Like summer, you should consider specific fabrics for your layers for added protection and increased comfort. The best materials for the winter include fleece, corduroy, wool, heavy cotton, leather, and faux fur. These fabrics help trap body heat without overheating you. However, many of these fabrics aren’t suitable for moisture, like snow; instead, layer them with a faux-leather or synthetic fiber winter coat.
Spring fashion is interesting. The weather is extremely inconsistent, leading to a clash of winter and summer items. Luckily, the most important rules for spring layering are simple to follow. Here are some spring layering tips.
Since a normal spring day can go from cold and rainy to hot and muggy, you need flexibility with your outfit. Specifically, you should be able to remove and add layers at a moment’s notice. That means avoiding large sweaters without buttons or zippers and most other types of pullovers. Zip-ups, light jackets, and vests are a solid option for early spring, while medium-weight button-ups are preferred as you approach summer.
Spring showers may bring summer flowers, but they can also make you sick and overall uncomfortable. The first few weeks of spring are often the wettest, so it’s extremely important you layer with moisture-wicking or waterproof jackets and coats. Synthetic materials like nylon and polyester have a tight weave design that keeps water off of your body. They also provide extra insulation without causing you to overheat.
Use this guide on properly how to layer clothing to ensure you look and feel your best each season of the year. If you’re in need of extra wardrobe items this season or the next, check out our collection of Patagonia outdoor clothing here at Escape Outdoors.
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